Turning Failure Into Success: Jack Ma

A couple of days ago, I wrote a piece on grit and how your level of grit determines whether you will be successful or not. Today let’s talk about the dreaded concept that most people fear–failure.

We’ve all experienced moments of failure in our lives at some point. Sometimes these failures cause us to feel unmotivated and dejected. Often times these moments even push us to give up and ultimately quit the things we initially hoped to be successful in. However, something that a lot of people fail to recognize is that failure is a part of success.

What? How can two things that seem like polar opposites be a part of each other?

Something we know for sure is that everything we do in life comes attached with life lessons, which can help us grow and improve. When we succeed, we can reflect on things we could’ve done better to be even more successful. When we fail, we can pinpoint things that went wrong. So now we know there are positives that come out of failure in the guise of life lessons, but what are the negatives? The negatives arise from what you choose to do with the lessons you receive. Either you’re going to use the lessons to minimize the chances of failure when you try something again, or you’re going to disregard the lessons and do nothing. Doing nothing is usually the easy route out, but why waste the lessons we’ve been gifted in life?

Jack Ma, the richest man in Asia and founder of Alibaba Group, makes sure to never waste the lessons he receives. You might think that it’s easy for Jack to value his lessons because he’s a billionaire who has seen a lot of success in his life, but that is certainly not the case. In fact, Jack has failed at things most people succeed in. Before founding Alibaba, Jack applied to KFC and got rejected. To put things in greater perspective, out of the 24 people who applied to KFC in Jack’s city, Jack was the only one who got rejected. The billionaire faced similar failures throughout exams he took in elementary school and college too.

Jack says his reaction to failure has been inspired by the character Forrest Gump. Jack fondly lives by the lesson Forrest’s mom taught her son,

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Jack expands on the lesson and says, “Believe what you’re doing, love it, whether people like it [or] don’t like it.”

Had Jack wallowed in his failures, he would probably not be the richest man in Asia. Had Jack succeeded in getting the job at KFC, he would probably be in a very different place in life today. However, Jack’s resilience and appreciation of the lessons he learned from countlessly failing have made him the successful man he is today.

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